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Brilliant Things

“I made a list. Everything that’s brilliant about the world.”

I’ve been in my office these past two weeks, sitting at my desk, relearning Every Brilliant Thing. The story, for those who don’t know, is about a guy who has a mother that is dealing with severe depression, and in an attempt to cheer her up, he writes a list of everything he finds brilliant about the world.

Ever since my diagnosis I’ve become much more aware of the things I love about life. Rehearsing this play on top of that has sent my antenna into overdrive.

I was thinking about the show in the shower this morning. It dawned upon me how much I love to shower. Hands down it’s one of my favorite things to do. And I do not take it for granted. I know how lucky I am to have a home with hot water, and that this luxury has been afforded to very few people in the history of the world.

The treatment I was on for the first year and a half required me to carry around a fanny pack full of medicine for 46 hours, which meant I couldn’t bathe during that time. The first thing I did after I was disconnected was shower and scrub the past two days off me. It meant that treatment was done. It meant that it was time to recover.

I had an amazing shower in Brooklyn. It wasn’t fancy or anything, but it had a window that looked out onto a private alleyway that separated the apartment from the garage. The window was eye level, and when I would shower I would open it and watch the steam billow out. It felt so cool. How many people could open the window while they showered in New York City?

The best time was during the winter. It was amazing to feel the cold on my face and then immediately put it under the shower head. The frigid air made the steam from the hot water all the more intense.

There was one winter night in particular. I don’t remember the year, but it was Christmas Eve. I always waited tables on Christmas Eve. In fact, I would close down the restaurant. I usually flew home on Christmas morning, and used the leverage of being the last one there on Christmas Eve to get myself a few extra days off. Anyone who has waited tables during the holiday season in New York knows what an intense four weeks those can be. The restaurants are busy from open to close, breaks between shifts are a thing of the past, and you basically hold on for dear life and make all the money possible.

The last few shifts are the most brutal. What kept me going through those long hours was my Christmas Eve tradition of coming home at the end of my last shift of the year and taking a long hot shower. The water would soothe my aching neck and arms and back. It was over. I had made it through.

This particular Christmas Eve I got home about 12:30am. I said hi to my cat, and then immediately took off my clothes and headed to the shower. I was going to do it right. I lit a couple of candles. I brought in speakers so I could listen to some music. When the water was ready I opened the window, and what do you know- it had started snowing. It was magical. White fluffy flakes fell in front of the window, and I don’t know if I had ever felt that warm and content.

And if I was making a list of everything that I found brilliant about the world…that night would certainly make the cut.

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